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Lawyers Gone Wild (rated PG 13)

I’ve debated with myself whether to post this video of Joe Jamail, the Texas lawyer who won a 10 billion dollar verdict in the infamous (in the 1980s) Penzoil v. Texaco case. Of course, my colleagues, trouble makers that they are, encouraged me to publish this.

Click here to see the video.

The background of this case, which was a cause celebre of major proportions at the time, is discussed here.

Old Joe got a whopping $1 billion contingent fee out of this case (which settled for $3 billion), resulting in much of the University of Texas Law School being beholden to him.

In any event, its a long way from the trenches of pre-trial discovery to the glory of a multi-billion dollar settlement. The miracles of the Internet now bring us a videotaped deposition by Mr. Jamail in this case. In most states, this deposition would result in court sanctions all around, but in Texas in the early ’80s, this kind of conduct seems to have been acceptable. Maybe it still is.

Up here in Boston, it would be pretty rare to see something like this.  We’re very polite and circumspect here.  I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.  Probably good.

Jamail, whose back is to the camera (you can only see his left hand), is deposing an expert witness. The Texaco lawyers appear to be defending. Unfortunately, everyone is off camera except for the witness.

Lawyers: please don’t show this to your clients or expert witnesses when they ask you what a deposition is like.